Use of technology can increase Malawi’s capacity to respond to uncertainties

Technological advancements

In the face of compounding difficulties subjecting people to various kinds of great uncertainties and worry unsettling lives everywhere as outlined by the recently released Human development report (HDR), a call has been made for Malawi to use the document to think and develop technologies which make life more predictable.

Among others, the report stated that the Covid -19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine are devastating manifestations of today’s uncertainty complex with each exposing limits of and cracks in current global governance.

Dr. Wilfred Sumani Director of Academic affairs at Catholic University of Malawi has stressed on the need to put interventions of humanity into the ecosystem which will give power to control and predict the future.

He noted that Malawi is classified as one of those countries with very low uncertainty avoidance and what needs to be done is to increase its ability to predict and respond to these uncertainties by leveraging use of technology and knowledge.

The academician said one of the reasons the country’s economy has been lagging behind is that it lacks the capacity to make its own homegrown solutions as evidenced in the increased importation of goods and services.

Sumani: we need to invest in a type of education that empowers young people to think outside the box

“Therefore the disruption of value chains occasioned by COVID-19, we found ourselves stranded. Look at what is happening with the fuel situation in the country; a very small disruption of the supply chain leaves us debilitated because we have not indigenized these technologies but also the products.

“We’re very happy just to import whatever we can import from other places. So we need to invest in a type of education that empowers young people to think outside the box, but also have the courage to start experimenting. You know take small steps in experimentation; go to the lab create a product. It’s not going to work the first time but through iteration they’re going to perfect it. That’s how the so called developed economies went about it”

Dr. Sumani pointed out that a leadership that believes in the importation of high end products from other countries cannot value and support local innovations.

Part of the audience which attended the Human development report launch

He cited examples of Mgona in Lilongwe where people are making machines for shelling groundnuts, another project with Lilongwe technical college where people make sugarcane machines which takes the finish product and builds a new one using locally available materials.

 “We shouldn’t worry about what the government thinks about these initiatives, you know change sometimes comes from below. We don’t expect change to come from above. What you find coming from above is policies and these are dead documents; they are published, they are launched and then they end up on the shelf.

“So real change is going to come from the bottom, therefore we have to find ways of galvanizing and supporting whatever people are doing at the grassroots and that is going to be scaled up, it’s going to be improved sooner or later, the government will take notice and they’ll support them”